RAW EMOTION: Steve Smith's press conference after being sent home from South Africa in the wake of the ball tampering scandal was extraordinary.
RAW EMOTION: Steve Smith's press conference after being sent home from South Africa in the wake of the ball tampering scandal was extraordinary. Steve Christo

Paul Murray: Mob now calling for mercy

WHAT a strange week of extreme emotions as Australians swung between white hot anger and forgiveness when it came to our cheating cricketers.

Former vice-captain David Warner has become the villain of the scandal, but by week's end there was a mass showing of mercy for former captain Steve Smith and, to a lesser extent, the man who actually tampered with the ball, Cameron Bancroft.

When we all woke to the news of the cheating being exposed by eagle-eyed TV cameras in South Africa you could feel the rage in the air; radio was quickly filled with callers demanding anyone involved be sacked.

As the week wore on, legendary callers, like the ABC's Jim Maxwell, were close to tears at the stain the events had left on the baggy

green.

All the pieces were perfectly placed for Cricket Australia to swing the axe, and after some major fumbles at the start of the week punishments were, by anyone's standard, severe: Smith and Warner were out for a year, Bancroft nine months.

But the painful tears of a disgraced Bancroft and Smith turned an angry nation of fans around.

Smith's press conference was an extraordinary thing to watch live.

His pain was obvious and within seconds the voices calling for everyone involved to be rubbed out were now loudly calling for mercy.

The cheating was still the same, the punishment still stood, but after the public had got their wish, the results were there for all to see.

THE GOLD COAST IS ABOUT TO BE THE CENTRE OF THE SPORTING WORLD, GET ON BOARD

I spent some time on the Gold Coast this week for Sky News and the city is well and truly ready to host the Commonwealth Games, but I'm not so sure about the people.

Don't get me wrong, they are some of my favourite in the country, but it was hard to pick up any sense of real excitement.

Yes, there are going to be traffic issues and they've blocked streets so pedestrians can get around. But there's plenty of money to be made from the nearly one million people who have bought tickets to see the sport.

They need to stay somewhere, eat somewhere and get around the coast.

They are looking for places to shop and things to do.

That should create a huge flow-on effect for the city.

In the past couple of years I've been lucky enough to see so much of Australia for Sky News, and take it from me, there's plenty of places that would kill to be as busy as the Gold Coast will be next month.

Regional Australia needs jobs, and people to buy stuff so they keep those jobs.

While two weeks of the Games is a sugar hit, that might be enough to ride out the bad times that come with any business.

One of the great regrets of my life is I never bought a ticket to the Sydney Olympics because I was convinced it would be too hard to get around.

Please make sure you don't make the same mistake.

Big events are something to be proud of, the inconvenience of hosting them is something we can all just take in our stride.

Go Australia and go Gold Coast.

* Paul Murray is a broadcaster at Sky News who can be seen weeknights 9-11pm AEST on Paul Murray LIVE.

* Like him on Facebook, just search for 'Paul Murray LIVE'.